A never-say-die team to be reckoned with has emerged in Group A as Prokom Trefl Sopot stormed back from 16 points down in the second half to beat Olympiacos 75-77 in Athens on Thursday. The victory was Prokom's second on the road and assured it a 2-1 record and a share of second place. Olympiacos fell to 1-2. Andrija Ciric put Prokom ahead for good on a three-point play in the final minute, while Lavor Postell of Olympiacos missed 2 free throws to tie or put the Reds ahead with 9 seconds to go. Ciric led Prokom with 16 points off the bench in just 15 minutes. Goran Jagodnik added 14 points, Filip Dylewicz 13, Harold Jamison and Adam Wojcik 12 each for the winners. Wojcik doubled up with 10 rebounds as the visitors outrebounded Olympiacos 39-31. Olympiacos got 16 points from Dusan Vukcevic, 14 from Marque Perry and 11 from Ivan Zoroski, but suffered from 12-for-21 free throw shooting on the night.
From the very first moment of the game, Olympiacos tried to do what new Jonas Kazlauskas had been insisting on since he arrived: run and execute before Prokom's defense could get organized. Perry scored 4 points as Olympiacos took an early 12-6 lead, but Prokom reacted as Jamison and Jagodnik scored 6 points apiece from then until the end of the first quarter. With their persistence, Prokom rallied to lead 14-15, but Olympiacos managed to finish the first period with a 21-17 lead as Ivan Zoroski, Lazaros Agadakos and Lavor Postell combined on 14 points. Prokom forward Adam Wojcik seemed to feel great in a familiar arena as the former player from the Greek League also picked up 5 points in the first 10 minutes to help the visitors stay close.
When the second quarter started, it was obvious that Olympiacos wanted to run even more. With fastbreaks leading to 7 points by Ivica Jurkovic, the Reds led 36-23 after 16 minutes, marking the biggest lead of the first half. Prokom needed someone to step up, and that was Filip Dylewicz. He scored 4 points in the paint, then moved out and added three-pointer as Prokom cut its deficit to 38-31. Olympiacos pushed the gas again to explode to 41-31 on a three by Dusan Vuksevic. Perry, Vuksevic, Zoroski and Jurkovic improved to 7 points apiece, while Wojcik finished the first half with 9 points and Jamison 8. The problem for Prokom was Jagodnik, who managed to score 6 points in the first quarter, but none at all in the second.
Just 3 minutes of the third quarter were enough for Olympiacos to reestablish dominance, as triples by Vangelis Sklavos and Vukcevic pushed the Reds' lead all the way to 16 points, 49-33. It was at that moment that Prokom got serious, scoring the next 7 points, including 3 by Tomas Pacesas, to cut the deficit back to single digits at 49-40. Olympiacos was having none of it, however, and pushed the lead back up to 55-42 on a dunk by Agadokos. But Prokom would never say die. Wojcik was there to lead the next run of 7 unanswered points with a big three that made it 55-49 a minute before the end of the quarter. Jurkovic reemerged to score his first basket of the second half and put the Reds in charge, 57-49, after 30 minutes.
Jagodnik, who had been missing from Prokom’s offensive since the first quarter, returned with a vengence for the fourth. He started it with 4 consecutive points that cut the difference to 58-55. That gave a great psychological push to Prokom, who now got 4 points from Ciric, while Dylewicz was the one who brought Prokom really close, 60-59, with 7 minutes to go. Elvir Ovcina scored to get Olympiacos a 64-61 lead back, but Ciric stepped up again to score crucial points, including 2 three-pointers that gave Prokom the lead, 67-69, with 2 minutes to go. Free throws by Vuksevic and a very important jumper by Lavor Postell brought the lead back to the Reds, 71-69, but Pacesas answered with a big three to push Prokom back on top, 71-72. Perry’s three-point basket-plus-free throw came at the perfect moment to give Olympiacos a 74-72 lead, but Ciric answered with the same way to make it 74-75, now in the final minute. When it came down to foul shots, Postell missed both of his with 9 seconds to go while Jagodnik made 2 for a 74-77 Prokom lead. Perry went to the line now and made his first, missing the second on purpose. None of his teammates grabbed the offensive rebound, however, and Prokom escaped with a huge win from Athens.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Kostas Sotiriou, Athens